Muddy Waters

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  • Inducted by:
    Paul Butterfield
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He electrified the blues—literally and figuratively.

You could call his the guitar that launched a thousand bands. Muddy Waters’ playing was revelatory, his singing unrivaled. He has inspired such icons as the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton to take up rock’s legacy.

Hall of Fame Essay


Michael Hill

Playing at the blues bars of Chicago’s South Side in the Forties, Muddy Waters began to assemble what appears to be, in retrospect, the prototypical rock band.

Waters found he couldn't command much attention unamplified in a crowded, noisy club. So in 1944 he bought his first electric guitar. As a vocalist, he developed a raw and impassioned shouting style.

His groups, which played with all amps cranked, consisted of bass, drums, second guitar, piano and harmonica, with Waters on slide guitar and vocals. He and a shifting company of stellar sidemen played hard-edged, unadulterated blues, but his bands had the earmarks—in size, volume and attitude—of rock combos to come.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Program 1987
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1987 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Muddy Waters
He really made me feel that it was all worth it to go ahead and really learn how to play my instrument.
Paul Butterfield